2 articles…

If an article is really worth reading, you check the source. You check the author and other articles written by the author. You are intrigued by something in the article and want to know more about it, what do you do? You look it up. Something I recently did when I read the article below and found it so well written and informational, I wanted to share it and yet I wanted to know more. The second article I found just as well written and informative..  Here, I place both articles that, I believe could be read in succession.  No copyright infringement intended – I have posted the web address of each. Hyperlinks were left in place. Only ads were deleted.


Four weeks of pranayama breathing exercises reduces anxiety and negative affect and is linked to changes in the brain

A study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry found evidence to suggest that yoga breathing exercises can lead to improvements in emotional regulation. After pranayama training, participants showed decreased anxiety and negative affect, and changes in areas of the brain related to emotional processing.

Pranayama refers to a set of techniques for controlling the breath and involves the practice of regulating inhalation, retention, and exhalation. These breathing exercises have been linked to positive physiological changes in the body, including cardiovascular improvements. There is evidence to suggest that the practice may have positive psychological effects, too.

While some studies have suggested that yogic breathing leads to improvements in emotional regulation, little empirical study has considered how these changes may be presented in the brain.

Study authors Morgana M. Novaes and her team wanted to explore how pranayama training would influence subjects’ self-reported mood and anxiety within a randomized, controlled study. Additionally, the researchers investigated activity in the brain network implicated in the processing of emotions, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Thirty young people with an average age of 25 were assigned to one of two conditions. The experimental group took part in a 5-day pranayama training, followed by four weeks of regular pranayama practice. The four weeks involved three supervised 30-minute practices a week and two at-home practices. The control group also attended supervised meet-ups but took part in nonrelated activities such as crosswords and card games.

Both groups completed measures of state and trait affect and anxiety, and fMRI assessments. The fMRI assessments were taken during an emotional regulation task and at resting state. All participants were assessed at baseline, and again immediately after the four-week training.

After analyzing the data, the researchers uncovered significant differences between the two groups. The pranayama group showed decreased state anxiety, decreased negative affect, and increased positive affect following the yoga breathing intervention.

Moreover, the two groups showed differences in fMRI activity. The group who practiced pranayama breathing exercises showed changes in areas of the brain implicated in emotion processing, including the amygdala, anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), anterior insula, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex.

“The amygdala has been the most cited brain region in studies related to emotion processing. This structure is part of the limbic system and has been particularly associated with negative emotions . . . We found that changes in the amygdala activity were correlated with changes in negative affect,” Novaes and colleagues report.

The authors discuss several possible mechanisms through which pranayama might affect emotional regulation. As they point out, research suggests that attention and awareness can affect emotional regulation and that brain activity in the insula, ACC, and amygdala determines the emotional impact of a stimulus.

“In line with this hypothesis,” the researchers say, “it has been suggested that the practice of meditation is associated with decreased activity in the amygdala in response to emotional stimuli, besides suggesting the influence of meditation particularly in the insula, ACC, and thalamus. Therefore, bottom-up models of emotion regulation seem to better fit the observed brain changes related to contemplative practices, such as meditation and pranayama.”

Although preliminary and exploratory, these findings pave the way for future studies, by suggesting for the first time that pranayama breathing techniques are linked to reduced anxiety and increased positive affect, accompanied by changes in the brain network involved in emotion processing.

The study, “Effects of Yoga Respiratory Practice (Bhastrika pranayama) on Anxiety, Affect, and Brain Functional Connectivity and Activity: A Randomized Controlled Trial”, was authored by Morgana M. Novaes, Fernanda Palhano-Fontes, Heloisa Onias, Katia C. Andrade, Bruno Lobão-Soares, Tiago Arruda-Sanchez, Elisa H. Kozasa, Danilo F. Santaella, and Draulio Barros de Araujo.

(Image by feelgoodjunkie from Pixabay)

src: https://www.psypost.org/2020/10/four-weeks-of-pranayama-breathing-exercises-reduces-anxiety-and-negative-affect-and-is-linked-to-changes-in-the-brain-58300

The Power of Breathing: 4 Pranayama Techniques Worth Practicing

Nov 16, 2018 By Allison Hodge

Person sitting on dock on lake

Updated November 16, 2018.

Breathing is something we do on a daily basis. The body, in a living state, breathes involuntarily whether we are awake, sleeping, or actively exercising. Breathing is living. It is a vital function of life. In yoga, we refer to this as pranayamaPrana is a Sanskrit word that means life force and ayama means extending or stretching. Thus, the word “pranayama” translates to the control of life force. It is also known as the extension of breath. Every cell in our bodies needs oxygen to function properly. So it’s no surprise that research shows that a regular practice of controlled breathing can decrease the effects of stress on the body and increase overall physical and mental health.

Ever notice how soothing a simple sigh can be at the end of a long day? There are a variety of breathing techniques that are known to reduce stress, aid in digestion, improve sleep, and cool you down. Here are instructions on four pranayama exercises worth practicing and the most beneficial times to do them.

1. Nadhi Sodhana aka Anuloma Viloma

Nadhi sodhana, also known as alternative nostril breathing, is a very relaxed, balancing breath that is used to help calm the nervous system and aid in a restful night’s sleep. By increasing the amount of oxygen taken into the body, it’s believed that this breath can also purify the blood, calm the mind, reduce stress, and promote concentration.

How to do it: Nadhi sodhana can be done seated or lying down. To start, empty all the air from your lungs. Using the thumb of your dominant hand, block your right nostril and inhale through your left nostril only. Be sure to inhale into your belly, not your chest. Once you are full of breath, seal your left nostril with the ring finger of the same hand, keeping your right nostril closed, and hold the breath for a moment. Then release your thumb and exhale through your right nostril only. Be sure to exhale all the breath out of the right side and pause before inhaling again through the same side. Seal both nostrils once you’ve inhaled on the right side and exhaled through the left side. A complete cycle of breath includes an inhalation and exhalation through both nostrils. If you’re just starting out, you can do a four-count inhale, holding your breath for four to eight counts, then exhale for four counts. Perform up to ten cycles and notice how your body responds. You may feel more relaxed and calm in both your mind and body.

When to do it: Nadhi sodhana is a calm, soothing breath that can be done any time of day. Try practicing this technique when you are anxious, nervous, or having trouble falling asleep.

2. Kapalabhati Pranayama

Kapalabhati means skull shining breath. It’s a pranayama exercise as well as an internal kriya, or cleansing technique. Practitioners of kapalabhati believe that this breath will help clear mucus in the air passages, relieve congestion, reduce bloating, and improve lung capacity. Kapalabhati is an invigorating breath that can build heat in the body.

How to do it: Start by sitting in a comfortable seat with a tall, straight spine, and exhale completely. Inhale briefly through both nostrils, then sharply exhale (again out of your nose) while pulling your navel in toward your spine. The exhalation is short and quick, but very active, while the inhalation is short and passive. Again, pull your navel in as you exhale and soften it on the inhalation. Do one round of 30 (counting your exhalations) and rest for a minute with some deep breaths in between. Repeat. If this seems strenuous, start with 15 and gradually work your way up.

When to do it: Kapalabhati is great to do in the morning if you’re feeling chilly or sluggish. You may also try it when you’re feeling congested or bloated, but don’t try it on a full stomach. Avoid this technique if you are pregnant, or suffer from blood pressure issues or heart conditions.

3. Ujjayi Pranayama

Ujjayi means victorious breath; it’s also referred to as ocean breath due to the sound it creates. This breath is often used in asana (posture) practice, especially in ashtanga and vinyasa classes. Ujjayi encourages full expansion of the lungs, and, by focusing your attention on your breath, it can assist in calming the mind.

How to do it: Find a place where you can sit comfortably with a straight spine. Take a steady breath in through both nostrils. Inhale until you reach your lung capacity; maintain a tall spine. Hold your breath for a second, then constrict some of the breath at the back of your throat, as if you were about to whisper a secret, and exhale slowly through both nostrils. This exhalation will sound like an ocean wave or gentle rush of air. You should feel the air on the roof of your mouth as you exhale. Repeat up to 20 times.

When to do it: This breath can be practiced for up to 10 minutes at any time of day. Try it with an asana practice as well.

4. Sitali Pranayama

Sitali also means cooling, which explains the effect it can have on your mind and body. This breath encourages clearing heat with coolness. It’s especially helpful during summer and in hot climates.

How to do it: Roll your tongue until the outer edges touch, forming a tube. If you can’t curl your tongue, make an oval shape with your mouth, keeping your tongue flat. Inhale through your mouth, taking in all the air that you can. It may make a hissing sound. After inhaling, bring the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth and seal your lips. Feel the coolness of the inhalation in your month then exhale through your nose. Repeat five to ten times or as needed.

When to do it: If you’re feeling overheated, irritable, or find yourself waiting impatiently in hot weather, sitali is a great tool to try to cool off and relax!

Breathing is one of the most natural things we do as humans. It is a gift and a very powerful tool that can enable us to create more ease and balance in our lives. Taking time to focus on the breath allows us to pause from daily stresses, physical symptoms, and emotions that have taken over the mind. It is in that moment where we focus on the breath that we can return to a neutral state of being, gain clarity, feel rejuvenated, and enhance an overall sense of well-being. These are just a few wonderful reasons to invite a pranayama practice into your daily routine.

Helpful Tips for Getting Started

  • You be the judge. If you feel any discomfort or lightheadedness, stop immediately and return to normal breathing. Consult an instructor for guidance and supervision.
  • Never force or restrict your breath. Don’t compromise the quality of the breath. Do the best that you can. The more you practice, the longer you’ll be able to perform the exercises, and eventually, you’ll be able to use more of your lung capacity.
  • Patience and practice. Pranayama should be done with great care and awareness. Try to stay focused on the journey, not the destination! Over time, you will start to notice the benefits of the practice.

Precautions. If you are pregnant, or suffer from diabetes, high or low blood pressure, heart conditions, epilepsy, or vertigo, please consult your health care provider before performing any of these breathing exercises.

Tags:  sitali – pranayama – anuloma viloma – kapalabhati – nadhi sodhana – breathing techniques – ujjayi

Allison Hodge is a vinyasa yoga instructor and certified holistic health coach. She is also a co-founder of Flex Hour Yoga, a San Francisco-based company providing yoga instruction and wellness programs to Bay area businesses. Allison loves time in the kitchen exploring recipes, being on her yoga mat, and soaking in warm sun wherever she can find it. Completely fascinated with the body’s innate ability to heal, she continues to explore various modalities of yoga and holistic health, and is forever grateful to share her passions to empower others. Learn more about Allison at Allison Hodge Yoga and connect with her on Facebook.

The One Medical blog is published by One Medical, an innovative primary care practice with offices in BostonChicagoLos AngelesNew YorkPhoenixPortland, the San Francisco Bay AreaSeattle, and Washington, DC.

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src: https://www.onemedical.com/blog/live-well/breathing-pranayama-techniques

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